OUR new stadium is fast capturing the attention of the National Basketball League chief. Voices like Jeremy Loeliger's are vital in reaching our potential once the doors open and it is showtime for our show court.
Loeliger says timing works in our favour - there is a greater likelihood we could be in the mix for in-season NBL action with the rising of new franchise South East Melbourne Phoenix.
Capacity for the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre is small in terms of NBL crowds at 3000 seats, particularly with the revamped 4000-seat Bendigo Stadium in the regional neighbourhood.
But Loeliger maintains we have potential.
Phoenix will create twice as much demand for NBL home games at Melbourne Arena, which already creates headaches for established tenant Melbourne United when Australian Open tennis is in town.
Games need to go somewhere with the facilities a modern, professional sporting team needs.
We need to raise our hand.
Bendigo Stadium hosted the Australian Boomers in a FIBA World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan last September.
Our stadium is designed to tap into such potential and Loeliger said opportunities were to be had in the elite men's and women's games.
A fundamental of the NBL partnership with our new elite state league is building the game and strengthening pathways across all Victoria.
NBL1 will draw more attention to our teams and facilities more than the (now defunct) South East Australian Basketball League ever could.
Ballarat Miners and Rush are still one full season away from moving into the BSEC. Miners and Rush tip off their inaugural NBL1 campaigns in Nunawading on Saturday night but will continue to play home games, starting with Bendigo on April 6, at the MARS Minerdome for the season.
BSEC is on schedule to open for play mid-year, but this is deep into the NBL1 campaign let alone being a disruption to potential finals play.
But Loeliger assures the nation will be watching us.
The NBL1 name has been attracting headline acts. Australia's most decorated basketballer Lauren Jackson has already created a stir by registering as a player for her hometown team Albury-Wodonga, which she coaches, and flagging a potential high-profile break in retirement.
The Miners had already secured hometown product Sam Short, a 2018 Melbourne United championship player, and former Australian Opals coach Brendan Joyce, a Miners championship coach.
They add Sydney Kings' Deng Acouth, Cairns Taipans' Kuany Kuany and NBL-experienced American Jerry Evans Junior.
Loeliger says the Miners should be one of the most competitive outfits this season.
Should we reach play-offs, we can expect unprecedented hype. NBL1's championship games are the week before the highly-anticipated Boomers showdown with Team USA at Marvel Stadium.
Then, imagine securing an NBL or WNBL pre-season game at our new stadium in the wake of that.
Basketball Ballarat has strong partnerships with Melbourne United and WNBL clubs Bendigo Spirit and Melbourne Boomers, which have each continued to bring their games here to fine-tune.
The Minerdome has long been up-to-scratch for elite team needs but these teams know what is unfolding in our new stadium nearby.
And they know the reach they can make in Ballarat and western Victoria to grow the game.
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